A plea has gone out to dog owners to keep their pets under control around livestock as the lambing season reaches its peak.
Lake District National Park ranger, Val Edmondson has issued a warning after a number of incidents in the area.
She said: "Although most dog owners take great care around breeding livestock and wildlife, the thoughtless minority can cause havoc.
"We recently had a case in Ullswater where a very well-bred, valuable Herdwick ram was mauled so badly it had to be put down.”
Owner and respected breeder, Jean Wilson, was distraught, explaining she had bought the young breeding tup for 1,000 guineas in autumn to improve her pedigree flock.
“It was heart-breaking, particularly as it should have had its whole life in front of it. The vet bill was £400, not to mention disposal costs," she said.
Ranger Edmondson said the case proved rams were just as vulnerable to attack as pregnant ewes and lambs.
She added: “It was one of a number of mindless actions from dog owners at this precarious time. Sheep worrying can and does have horrendous consequences, both for the farmer and dog owners.
“This is a very sensitive and important time. Dogs chasing lambing sheep can cause them to abort and, in the worst cases, kill the ewe. Preferably they should be kept on a short lead around livestock.
“Farmers have reported some sickening cases over the years and ultimately they have the right to shoot out of control pets. This is obviously a last resort, but sometimes they have no other choice.
“Lambing time coincides with ground nesting birds producing their offspring, which are also at great risk from dogs.
By law, dogs must be controlled so that they do not scare or disturb livestock or wildlife.
On open access land they have to be kept on short leads from March 1 to July 31 – and all year round near sheep.
Close supervision is also required on public rights of way.
We have 1,000s of livestock worrying signs which you can nail to gateposts or fenceposts near footpaths to highlight the problem to walkers.
If you would like some of these signs, please send a stamped, self-addressed A4 envelope to
FG Take the Lead, Farmers Guardian,
Unit 4, Fulwood Business Park,
You will need at least three First Class or Second Class stamps on to cover postage costs. We will be able send up to 25 signs.